Sunday, May 12, 2013

Labour Link elections - an opportunity for the left?

Tomorrow nominations open for elections to the UNISON Labour Link Committee (http://www.unison.org.uk/elections/pages_view.asp?did=15639) - this is an area of our trade union's work which desperately needs to be improved - and capable socialist candidates are vitally needed!

The National Labour Link Committee is a little-known body which has seemingly existed to ensure that, in the twenty years of UNISON's existence, our Union has been generally ineffective in our intervention in the Labour Party.

The pinnacle of the worthlessness of UNISON Labour Link was probably the vote on Foundation Hospitals during Blair's second-term, when the Government's majority (against UNISON policy - and all real Labour principle) amongst the "UNISON group" of MPs was higher than its overall majority - had the entire UNISON group, on both sides of the Division, been absent from the Commons, the Government would have lost the vote.

The mind-numbing idiocy which appears to have been the hallmark of UNISON's strategic approach to the Labour Party ever since our Union did Blair's bidding in Opposition by moving the "Partnership" proposals to undermine the power of Party Conference (and the unions) is still going strong, as UNISON Labour Link has determinedly set its face against learning from the Foundation Hospital vote fiasco over the intervening years.

Labour Link seriously advances the proposition that we should support, in a Parliamentary selection, any UNISON member, regardless of their politics or record. This approach may create the illusion of influence on the basis that we are on nodding terms with Members of Parliament - but it is genuinely foolish if what we want out of our political work is support for our policies and values. (It may be less foolish if we see our Labour Party affiliation as essentially a vehicle to advance the political careers of a lucky few, or to provide a retirement option for those of our senior officials prepared to sit in the House of Lords).

The "democratic" structures of UNISON's autonomous Affiliated Political Fund (UNISON Labour Link) were designed to insulate our Labour Party work from accountability to rank and file members and - with some noteworthy exceptions - they have proven their effectiveness by ensuring our wider political ineffectiveness in the Labour Party over the years.

UNISON members have voted with their feet, as the proportion of members choosing not to pay into the affiliated section of our political fund has risen over the years. Walking away from the possibility of influence over a potential Party of Government would amount, however, to letting the authors of our political weakness have a final victory.

Whilst the Labour Link Committee may well deserve its obscurity, UNISON members don't deserve a continuation of two decades of relative uselessness.

Socialist candidates - who must be both UNISON Labour Link payers and individual Labour Party members - should seek nomination and campaign for election to the National Labour Link Committee.

Good luck comrades!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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